TMEP 1402.12: Parentheses and Brackets Should Not be Used in Identifications of Goods and Services

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1402.12    Parentheses and Brackets Should Not be Used in Identifications of Goods and Services

Generally, parentheses and brackets should not be used in identifications of goods and services.  The Post Registration Section of the USPTO uses single square brackets to indicate that goods/services have been deleted from a registration either by amendment under 15 U.S.C. §1057, filing of a partial affidavit of continued use under 15 U.S.C. §1058   or 15 U.S.C. §1141k, or filing of a partial renewal application under 15 U.S.C. §1059.  The Post Registration Section also uses double parentheses to indicate that certain goods or services are not claimed in an affidavit of incontestability under 15 U.S.C. §1065.  See TMEP Chapter 1600 regarding affidavits of continued use or excusable nonuse, renewal applications, affidavits of incontestability, and amendment of registrations. Therefore, to avoid confusion, applicants should not use parentheses and brackets in the identification of goods or services in an application.

The only time parentheses may be used in an identification is when the parentheses merely explain or translate the matter preceding the parenthetical phrase in such a way that it does not affect the clarity or scope of the identification. For example, although not required, it is acceptable to include an acronym in parentheses after the wording for which the acronym stands because it would not impact the clarity of the identification, e.g., "consulting services in the field of software as a service (SAAS)" in Class 42 or "mountaineering and rock climbing equipment, namely, spring-loaded camming devices (SLCDs)" in Class 28. In general, synonyms or foreign translations of terms should not be included in parentheses in an identification. However, the ID Manual does include several TM5 entries with the transliteration of primarily food items in parentheses. An identification of goods such as "fried tofu pieces (abura-age)" in Class 29 is acceptable because the parenthetical phrase merely provides further information about the goods in a manner that does not create ambiguity or impact the scope of the identification.

If the wording contained within the parentheses limits the nature, function, purpose, use, channels of trade, or intended users of the goods/services, such wording likely will affect the clarity of the identification. For example, "bags (tote)" in Class 18 would not be an acceptable use of parentheses.  If the identification were misinterpreted to mean that "tote" was no longer part of the identification of goods (due to an amendment of the goods or filing of a partial affidavit of continued use or renewal application), the item would merely read "bags."  That would create an ambiguity within Class 18, since it could refer to any type of bag – from an all-purpose sports bag to an evening bag – and it would make a determination of likelihood of confusion difficult.  Also, some bags are in classes other than Class 18.  Without an indication of the type of bag, classification of the goods is problematic. In the preceding example, "bags" is indefinite and overly broad. However, definite identifications should also not be followed by parenthetical information that affects the clarity of the identification; for example, although "coats" is acceptable in Class 25, "coats (cotton)" is unacceptable because the nature of the goods is limited by the parenthetical wording. The parenthetical information should be incorporated into the identification rather than merely appearing within parentheses. "Coats made of cotton" would be an acceptable amendment of "coats (cotton)."

If bracketed material is entered in an identification, it will be automatically deleted in all TEAS applications. In a paper application, the examining attorney may delete the bracketed material with a "no-call" examiner’s amendment. See TMEP §707.02.